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The EX+ era: Break away from ‘employee engagement’ and focus on ‘EX’

Blog Series Introduction | Continue reading Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

In the late 1990s, HR studies uncovered a new organisational factor that was a predictor of productivity and organisational outcomes: employee engagement. This concept gained popularity and engagement surveys were introduced in most major companies. 25 years later, the survey tools have changed, the range of questions has expanded, and the frequency of polling has increased, but the concept of engagement is losing ground. In 2020, a leading study (Turner, 2020) still described engagement as “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigour, dedication, and absorption” (Schaufeli et al., 2006).

Meanwhile, researchers had uncovered new insights that were outside the limited perspective of ‘employee engagement’. State of mind matters, but so does the context – the relationship with one’s colleagues and manager, available resources, communication practices, company culture, work conditions and so on. This new concept was called: ‘employee experience’ (EX) and covered all the touchpoints between an employee and an organisation, from the moment of joining until the exit from the organisation.  

About five years ago, researchers at McKinsey concluded, “mark our words: employee experience is the new evolution from employee engagement for defining how companies should interact with their people”. And a few years later another McKinsey study added, “the old employee engagement playbook is no longer enough to keep people. Instead, leaders must strengthen the holistic employee experience in the ‘new’ working world”. 

At Welliba, we have taken the concept of ‘employee experience’ and, through expansive global research in the last years, enriched it to the point where it offers the most holistic perspective that we can scientifically validate. Simultaneously, we built a human-centred platform that allows companies to measure, predict and manage outcomes related to employee experience using the latest best practices from behavioural science and new measurement techniques.  

We call this employee experience management system (ExMS) “Welliba EX+”. It is the first ExMS on the market and it is much more ambitious than most other tools for measuring employee engagement and employee experience. It offers a new approach to measuring and managing employee experience to help organisations and individuals work together on improving employee experience. This approach is possible for three main reasons: 

Firstly, Welliba EX+ is built on a new understanding of employee experience. Welliba defines employee experience as how people experience their work and life, which is the result of the interaction between a person’s characteristics and their environment. Welliba’s EX model makes the shift to a holistic perspective – it is not just about a person’s mindset or what’s happening in an employee’s environment, but about the interaction between a person and their context.  

Secondly, Welliba EX+ has taken drastic steps to improve data quality and employee ownership. These include real-time EX measurement through micro-conversations and a guarantee of strong privacy. But perhaps the biggest game-changer is the approach through which we have given more ownership to employees. EX+ does not put HR at the centre of EX-management, but gives employees insights, advice and access to resources to take matters into their own hands. The better the data they provide, the better the outcomes they can achieve. 

Thirdly, Welliba EX+ is built to help organisations predict outcomes, rather than understand the past. Engagement surveys help to understand the past. Welliba aims to help organisations come up with people programmes that shape the future. Statistical analysis shows that EX+ is capable of making relevant predictions with a measurable business impact. Helping organisations to evaluate the ROI of people programmes is a main feature of EX+. 

In the coming weeks, we will explore these three factors that drive our new approach. 

Continue reading | Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., & Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: A cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66(4), 701–716. 

Turner, P. (2020). What Is Employee Engagement? In: Employee Engagement in Contemporary Organizations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. 

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